August 09, 2015

Left and right

I dislike the political terms left and right for two main reasons. First, why should we classify political orientations based on what side of the room people sat on at the Estates General during the French Revolution? It's kind of arbitrary.

 Second, labels come with baggage. The left side of things comes with all kinds of sinister baggage (look the word up), which conjures up all kinds of associations, mostly negative.

Third, accepting labels can have consequences. This is true in many aspects of life but especially in politics. Think back to Russia in the early 20th century. A tiny sect of the Russian Social Democratic movement called themselves the majority (Bolsheviks). The much larger group (the Mensheviks) idiotically accepted the label. And, when it counted in terms of effective political force, they were the minority.

A good friend of mine once said he was concerned less about left and right than about tops or bottoms. I think I'm with him.

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